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Roku Ultra gets Dolby Vision HDR and Wi-Fi upgrades, stays at $100

Roku's best streamer now matches the HDR format support of Amazon Fire TV 4K and Apple TV 4K.

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Roku

Roku just announced a new Streambar, and its other new piece of hardware for 2020 is an updated Roku Ultra player, which will cost $100. Improvements to the company's top-of-the-line streaming device include a better Wi-Fi range and compatibility with Dolby Vision video -- which is available from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus -- just in time for The Mandalorian Season 2. (It won't be available in the UK or Australia, but that price converts to about £80 or AU$140.)

While many Roku players, including the $50 Roku Streaming Stick Plus, offer 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos audio and standard high dynamic range video, the 2020 Roku Ultra is the first to include Dolby Vision HDR. In CNET's tests Dolby Vision can look a bit better than standard HDR in some cases, but the difference is largely dependent on the TV and the video source. Even so, many owners of Dolby Vision-compatible TVs are likely to want a streamer that can deliver the format. Competing 4K devices with Dolby Vision include the $50 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, the $150 Nvidia Shield TV and the $180 Apple TV 4K

Read more: Best streaming device of 2020: Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield and more compared

The Ultra retains the same shape as its predecessors but the internals have been reconfigured to allow a larger antenna, resulting in 50% greater wireless range according to Roku. It also comes with a quad-core processor that supposedly improves on the 2019 Ultra's already-speedy operation.

Like other Roku devices it will be upgraded to work with Apple's AirPlay and Homekit system soon, and ships with Bluetooth (new for 2020) so you can stream music and podcasts from your phone to your TV. The Ultra remains the only Roku streamer with a wired Ethernet port -- which can be particularly important if your Wi-Fi network is taxed by other devices.

Read more: The best wired streaming device to save your home Wi-Fi bandwidth

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The Ultra is the only Roku streamer that works with wired Ethernet.

Roku

The 2020 version has Roku's best remote, complete with customizable shortcut buttons and a 3.5mm jack that allows you plug in headphones for private listening. The remote can accept voice commands using Roku's voice system and has volume, mute and power buttons for controlling a TV. The box also includes a remote finder button (now on the side instead of on top) so you can locate the clicker amid the couch cushions. In addition to headphones the box now includes an HDMI cable as well. 

The 2020 Roku Ultra goes on preorder today at Roku.com, and it's expected to be available at major retailers in October. The Ultra will not be available in the UK or Australia.

Aside from the Ultra and Streambar, Roku's lineup remains the same as it was in 2019, and all players from the $30 Express and up will continue to be sold throughout the year and into 2021. Here's the rundown.

Roku's 2020 streaming player lineup

Model Price Product type Streaming quality Voice remote with TV control Other remote extras Retailers
Express $30 Mini box HD No No All
Express Plus $40 Mini box HD Yes No Walmart only
Premiere $40 Mini box 4K HDR No No All
Streaming Stick Plus $50 Stick 4K HDR Yes No All
Streaming Stick Plus Headphone Edition $60 Stick 4K HDR Yes Headphone jack Best Buy only
Ultra LT $80 Bigger box 4K HDR Yes Headphone jack Walmart only
Ultra (new for 2020) $100 Bigger box 4K HDR with Dolby Vision Yes Headphone jack, remote finder, programmable keys, mute button All